TORONTO – Canadian media honcho Jay Switzer has died.
Switzer died Monday in Toronto with his family at his side after a short battle with brain cancer, said a statement from Hollywood Suite, the company he co-founded in 2010.
He was 61.
“Jay defined friendship, loyalty, fairness, selflessness, and basic human decency,” Jeff Sackman, Hollywood Suite co-founder and chair of the board of directors, said in a statement.
The Calgary native helped build and lead some of Canada’s biggest broadcasting entities, notably CHUM Ltd., where he became president and CEO.
He got an early introduction to the business: his father was cable engineer Israel (Sruki) Switzer and his mother was City co-founder Phyllis Switzer.
Switzer started working at City on the switchboard at age 16 and, on top of his studies, worked his way up the ladder in various roles in film and TV.
He was instrumental in expanding CHUM into other markets and launching various services, platforms, productions and specialty channels.
One of his biggest projects was co-writing the license application that would bring MuchMusic to air.
In 2010, Switzer co-founded the independent multi-platform movie broadcaster Hollywood Suite.
He was also a board member of various media companies and was vice-chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
“Amongst Jay’s many qualities was his unwavering support to women in an industry which has often turned a blind eye,” said Catherine Tait, Hollywood Suite co-founder and director.
“He tirelessly promoted and encouraged so many of us — and we hold him in our hearts forever, in gratitude.”
Switzer’s honours included a recent investment into the Order of Canada, and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for significant contribution to Canada.
The Canadian Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television plans to give him a special honour at the upcoming Canadian Screen Awards.
“Jay was a supportive and encouraging leader whose commitment and belief in the mission and people of Hollywood Suite never faltered, despite the many headwinds facing the broadcast business,” said David Kines, Hollywood Suite co-founder and president.
“His certainty in our success will be sorely missed by both myself and the staff and our industry.”